St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman on Tuesday warned that the city might need to take additional action if the recent surge in coronavirus cases in Pinellas County doesn’t ease.
During a Facebook Live update on Tuesday, Kriseman also said St. Petersburg will “lead the way” if the county does not change restrictions currently in place – including mandatory use of masks while indoors at public locations – if the spread worsens.
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“We’ll take action if we need to,” Kriseman said.
As of Tuesday’s update from the Florida Department of Health, Pinellas County reported 9,032 positive coronavirus cases, second in the greater Tampa Bay region to Hillsborough (15,362). It also has recorded 206 deaths, the most in the region – including 14 reported by the state in a 24-hour period on Sunday.
According to Kriseman, the number of coronavirus tests that have come back positive in Pinellas County is 12% for the last two weeks, far above the goal of under 5%.
While he praised residents for following the mask mandate, and continued to urge social distancing, Kriseman said that may not be enough.
“I do think that if the data we see in the next week or two shows us that the mask mandate is not working,” Kriseman said, “then we’re going to have to take some additional actions.”
Kriseman did not specify what actions he would take, though Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez ordered a rollback of some reopening measures on Monday, including allowing only outdoor dining at restaurants and closing other indoor facilities.
Kriseman said his preference would be to have standard restrictions in place across the state, but would act in the best interest in St. Petersburg residents.
“I prefer that we have statewide uniform policies,” Kriseman said. “If we can’t have a statewide policy, I’d like to see a regional policy, if it can’t be regional, then we’d like to see it countywide, and certainly if it doesn’t happen, St. Pete will lead the way and we’ll take action if we need to.
“That’s what we’ve done throughout this pandemic and we’ve seen others follow suit after we’ve taken action.”
He also urged the younger population – which has seen the steepest spike in cases – to do a better job of following the guidelines in place to contain the coronavirus.
“We need those folks to do a better of job of social distancing and wearing the masks,” Kriseman said. “We don’t want you coming home and giving it to grandma and grandpa, mom and dad, because those are the folks who are going to overwhelm our hospitals.”